Couple Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy
with adoptive parents

Becoming adoptive parents inevitably brings changes and developments to the life of the family and to relationships with others. There are changes not only to the shape, structure and sense of family, but also to the emotional life of the couple. Many of these changes are welcome and life-enhancing; some are predictable and enjoyable. Others are unexpected and may be unsettling or bewildering.

It is impossible to know in advance what it will actually feel like – both individually and as a couple – to become adoptive parents. For many adoptive families, it is expected there will be times when things feel difficult or different to what one expected. Children may relate and behave in unforeseen, puzzling, or challenging ways. Some parents find themselves feeling much more ambivalent about parenthood than they envisaged. Others feel too consumed by it. New and unforeseen anxieties can arise. Some parents may feel miserable or wonder if they have done the right thing.

Given how complex an emotional experience adoptive parenting is, there are often shifts in how partners view, experience, and communicate with one another. Many of these emotional shifts are negotiated and worked out between partners as part of their daily lives. However sometimes there just isn’t time and space to do this. Things in the relationship which seem not to make sense are hard to talk about. There may be more conflict – or new areas of conflict – which the couple are unsure how to understand and manage between themselves. Such changes can lead to the trust and intimacy being adversely affected. In turn, this has an impact on the couple’s capacity to work effectively together as parents. Single adopters may have similar changes to negotiate with intimate friends or with a non-parenting partner, extended family members, or close work colleagues.

About the therapy

In couple psychotherapy with adoptive parents, the focus is on the emotional impact on the couple relationship following the arrival of, and living with, the adopted child/children. What feelings and anxieties have been generated by becoming parents? How is the living reality of being adoptive parents shaping your sense of yourselves, individually and as a couple? What is the effect of parenting having on your couple relationship? How have your domestic roles and relationship to the outside world changed, including your personal identity, work, friendships, and the extended family? How are you managing conflict as a couple?

Providing the adoptive couple with some emotional thinking time, and a confidential space and relationship with the psychotherapist in which a thoughtful conversation can take place, can help couples understand and adjust to new relational realities, equip them to be more effective as a parenting couple, and develop their enjoyment of family life. In turn, this supports the development of the children.

In my practice I see parental couples who are recent or long-standing adopters. The work usually involves two initial consultations, during which we will come to a decision as to whether couple psychoanalytic psychotherapy is likely to be of benefit to you. If we agree to proceed with ongoing work together, this would be on a once weekly basis. Sessions last one hour. Fees will be discussed during the consultation.

If we decide this type of help or therapy is unlikely to be of help, we can discuss what other interventions or pathways you could pursue.